Rep. Ron Stephens, Guest columnist
This past Monday, the Georgia House of Representatives reconvened under the Gold Dome for our last full week of the 2023 legislative session. The end of session is quickly approaching, and we reached Legislative Day 40, also known as “Sine Die,” on Wednesday, March 29.
While some might assume that our official business wound down in these final days, we actually ramped up our House efforts to perfect and pass legislation before the legislative session comes to an end next week.
I am excited to announce that the Georgia House of Representatives passed legislation this week to help support women with highrisk pregnancies, particularly in underserved communities. In an effort to address infant and maternal mortality. Senate Bill 106, or the “Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Act,” would create a Medicaid program to provide virtual maternal health clinical services to women with highrisk pregnancies through the Georgia Department of Public Health’s (DPH) pilot home visiting program.
These at-home interventions can reduce the risk of preterm birth and improve the management of various risks during pregnancies, such as gestational diabetes, hypertension, and depression. By allowing virtual check-ins, we could improve maternal health outcomes in our state in several ways and make it easier for the program’s workers to reach high-risk pregnant women living in rural or underserved areas.
We gave unanimous final passage to Senate legislation this week to ensure that Georgia businesses do their part to help spread awareness and stop human trafficking in Georgia. Senate Bill 42 would revise the penalty for certain businesses that fail to post required signage about the human trafficking hotline, which handles tips about potential sex and labor trafficking and reports such incidents to law enforcement.
Under this bill, a business would have 30 days to post the appropriate signage if a law enforcement officer notifies the business of its noncompliance. The fine for this violation currently has a maximum of $500, and this bill would increase the fine to between $500 and $1,000.
For multiple violations, the fine would also increase and range between $1,000 and $5,000.
We also passed a bipartisan Senate measure to support Georgians as they rebuild their lives after prison.
Senate Bill 218 would allow state identification cards to be issued to inmates after they have completed a term of incarceration.
The Georgia Department of Corrections and the Georgia Department of Driver Services would work together to process these ID cards, which would look like any other state-issued ID and would not include any stigmatizing information about their status as a past offender. Additionally, when an inmate is released from a DOC facility, the individual could request documentation regarding programs he or she completed at the request of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles or the DOC.
The House also unanimously passed Senate Bill 93 to prohibit the use of certain foreign-owned social media platforms on state-owned devices. This ban, directed at apps like TikTok, would only apply to social media platforms that are owned or operated by a foreign adversary or by a company which is domiciled in, has its headquarters in or is organized under the laws of a foreign adversary.
The prohibition would also stand when a foreign adversary has substantial control over the content moderation practices of the platform or if the platform uses software or an algorithm that is controlled or monitored by a foreign adversary.
We passed Senate Bill 26, or the Georgia Electric Vehicle Future Act, to advance the electric vehicle (EV) industry in the state. This legislation would authorize the Georgia Department of Economic Development to establish and support a statewide electric vehicle manufacturing program, which would focus its efforts on developing, marketing, and promoting investments and job creation for Georgia’s EV industry.
Our state’s economic development arm would also work with our state’s transportation department and technology and tollway authorities to build out the appropriate infrastructure, such as EV charging stations, to support this growing industry.
I encourage you to contact me with your input and thoughts on proposed legislation or current events that may impact our community. I am in 226-A of the State Capitol. My office phone number is (404) 656-5115 and my email is ron.stephens@house. ga.gov.